This time the Iranian nut in question is not President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It’s pistachios! Iranian pistachios, sold through Turkey are making there way onto Israeli store shelves. Muffti doesn’t know if there is a difference in taste but its got the US geovernment AND cali pistachio farmers upset. Jpost reports:
The reddish nuts are landing in Israeli shops after funneling through Turkey, violating Israeli law that bans all Iranian imports and angering American officials who are urging Israel to crack down as part of their attempt to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
US Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Keenum said in a meeting with Israeli officials in Rome on Monday that the pistachio imports must stop, a US official confirmed Wednesday. Both the US and Israel have been pushing for new UN sanctions to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program. Iran insists its ambitions are peaceful.
“This causes great anger, especially since pistachios succeed in coming in through a third country,” Israeli Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon told Israeli Radio. “This has to do with the sanctions but also with the competition between American farmers and Iranian farmers, and we are trying to deal with this.”
Simchon said a recent meeting with a senior US agriculture official focused on using technology to detect the origin of pistachios. He said that would involve chemical testing to determine the climate and soil of where the nuts were grown.
In the mid 1990s US officials pressured Israel to block the import of Iranian nuts coming through EU member states and winding up in Israel.
California is the second largest producer of pistachios in the world, according to the former California Pistachio Coalition.
“As a proud native of the golden state (California), I think Israelis should eat American pistachios, not Iranian ones,” said Stewart Tuttle, spokesman for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Scoff all you like but Iranian pistachios have been a big source of contention in the past. See the TED case study for a look at how the nut importing industry has caused previous US – Israeli rifts. One clue: the US is the second largest producer and exporter of pistachios. Anyone care to hazard a guess as to who holds the number one spot?